When a friend or loved one receives a cancer diagnosis, it's important to be there and show you care. But finding the right words can be hard.
What can you say that won't scare or upset your friend or loved one? What can you say that will give them the hope and strength they need to confront cancer?
We recently asked the cancer patients, survivors and caregivers in our Facebook community to share the best things to say to someone with cancer.
Here's what they recommend.
"We'll get through this together. You're not facing cancer alone."
"I am praying for you."
"Go to MD Anderson. Here's the number: 1-877-632-6789."
"I am here for you." Then follow through and really be there.
Don't ask what you can do to help or say, "Let me know if you need anything." Many people will never ask for help even though they need it. Instead, jump in and do whatever you can to make things easier for your friend or loved one. Deliver meals. Go to appointments. Listen. Hold hands. Offer to watch the kids or walk the dog.
Choose positive, hopeful words, but don't give people false hope or talk about other people's cancer outcomes. Remember, each person is different, and hearing other people's stories may scare your friend or loved one.
Just say something. Many people ignore cancer patients and caregivers when they're diagnosed because they don't know what to say. But that only makes them feel worse. Sometimes "hello" or "I love you" is enough.
"You are strong. You can do this."
"This sucks. I love you. I'm going to [help by ___ ]."
"Never, never, never give up."
Just listen. Your friend or loved one has a lot to think about, and one of the best gifts you can give is to be a sounding board.
Don't focus on your own worries and sadness about your friend or loved one's diagnosis. The patient or caregiver shouldn't feel like he or she has to take care of you. Instead, offer strength, humor and practical help.
"Where do we start? We're in this together."
Accept that sometimes words fail us. Often, the best thing is to offer hugs, show up and say, "I love you."
What's the most helpful thing to say to someone newly diagnosed with cancer? Share your thoughts in our Facebook community.